Saturday, November 21, 2015

My cousin Soma

My cousin Soma is made of no ordinary stuff.

Who we are today is shaped by a lot of people we have come across in our life ...I have come across several such wonderful people in my life who have left a lasting impression on me, but if I have to talk about the one person who has made and continues to make a significant impact in my life then that would be "My cousin Soma".

Though we are not in the same age group, in my mind and anyone who knows her, she is forever 16. A gold medallist in History, she is a one of the most well travelled, intelligent, and knowledgeable persons that I have ever come across, and she happens to be a favourite teacher! Many of her students started enjoying history and opted to take up history in their further studies because of her interesting history classes. Not just history, if you have a teacher who is a good listener, a friend, philosopher and guide…what else would you wish for! I often wish I could have attended some of her classes. She still teaches and that is a passion that she has not let go of.

One of my best childhood memories about her was when we visited my uncle's place in Kolkata, I was at that stage a bookworm, I was really attracted to their house because of a room full of books, even though i could not find the books that i wanted to read, i just loved the sight of so many books and browsing through them.One day she saw us checking out the books and she said “You may not find what you are looking for here, come with me” both my sister and I followed her. She used to drive my uncle's ambassador those days. She drove us to a book shop...and said "pick up whatever you like”, I was like wow!!! I I was thrilled, awestruck, and simply overjoyed…what a wonderful surprise!!!...I still remember that day because no one had ever offered to do that! That was my first impression of her... and I became a big fan!

We did not meet up after that for a long-long father was in army and it was difficult to meet everyone during holidays. When we met after several years, she was battling Rheumatoid arthritis, on steroids, and in a lot of pain...but in high spirits always in spite of being in pain. I have never seen her depressed  or give up on life... because her condition kept getting worse and she could barely walk, her doctor advised her to get both her knees replaced. Not an easy decision to take when she was barely in her 40s…but she took a quick decision and went through the operations. Getting her knees replaced was perhaps the best decision that she took because it relieved her of the constant pain in her knees...although the nature of her illness is such that pain will continue to be a constant in her life:( and she has accepted it and chosen not to let the pain get the better of her.

In spite of her health conditions, she has not given up on driving, even if she is in pain she prefers to drive, she often says to me.... for her the car is like her wheelchair, it takes her places and she is able to do so much on her own because she continues to drive, and the good Samaritan that she is, if she sees any elderly person walking or walking with difficulty, almost always she offers to drop them somewhere near a bus stop or help them get a taxi...whatever little she can do to help.

Her bookshelf continues to be my favourite haunt, but over time courtesy her …my interest extended to her music collection....films, curios, and so many interesting things that she had collected over the years because of her travels worldwide. I keep learning from her. Not just about history....but about Bengali culture, she reads out Bengali poems and stories to me, i cannot read Bengali that well since i never got a formal Bengali education…and she happily obliges by reading out to me…what an absolute treat that is! Because of her, i have started seeing history from a different perspective, and i have become very interested in things historical. Soma continues to impact my life in different ways and happens to be my greatest critic and supporter.

Her health may not keep up with her but she spirit overrules everything. There are days when she can't leave her bed because of pain …but does she complain?...Never, I would hear her cheerful voice say "Oh... this will soon pass" and sure enough it would, and there she would be, up and about, and making her next travel plan.

At her age most people would not want to take up a new interest or want to learn something new. But then we are talking about Soma....She started developing an interest for bird watching around five years back. Bird watching involves hours of walking and travelling to lesser known places, and many a times alone...she needs to carry her heavy camera, binoculars, birding books, etc …it is definitely not an easy interest for someone who has rheumatoid arthritis….but if there is passion a lot of things become joyful and she is a living example of that. What is truly worth mentioning is that out of the 1200 birds seen in India, she is about to touch 1000 and that is no mean achievement especially given her chronic problem …

And that is her, the “Never say die” sister of mine. Not for nothing is she such an exceptional person.

This post is for the #madeofgreat campaign . You can find more information here:


Leena Walawalkar said...

Well-written Ranjana!

Saket said...

Interesting.... being able to touch 1000 birds....
Everyone has someone inspiring and interesting in their F&F circle, but your interesting way of writing about yours made it interesting :)

Saket said...

Soma is no ordinary stuff... and so is your writing :)

Ranjana Jha said...

Thank you so much Leena

Ranjana Jha said...

Thank you Saket ...yes touching almost 1000 is something.And thank you for reading my post.

Ranjana Jha said...

Thank you Saket ...yes touching almost 1000 is something.And thank you for reading my post.

Mahima said...

Your post defines #madeofgreat to the hilt. Goodluck for the contest
My answer is:
Authenticity, reliability, simplicity, as well as its commitment to innovation are the pillars of strength on which TATA have built a brand that has put India on the global map. It is a brand that has stood the test of time just like Lionel Messi who tackles opposition on the field with his skill,agility,strategy,brilliance and raw power to reach and score a goal so has been the track record of TATA motors who has become a brand leader and a global giant. These qualities make TATA Motors and Lionel Messi perfect partners who stand for the same set of values thus Lionel Messi is the perfect brand ambassador to represent TATA Motors.
Hope my best to be a winner here; do contact me for the prize at
fingers crossed

bhuwan said...

Your post defines #madeofgreat in a awesome manner.Very well written and interesting post indeed.
My Answer
Tata Motors is a brand that makes durable vehicles, with its MADE IN INDIA mark makes every Indian proud. It is a brand seen globally as Trusted, Reliable, Innovative and at the forefront of technology. In its journey since inception it has overcome all odds, competition, and adversities with grit and determination. These same qualities are associated with Lionel Messi who was very talented and hardworking from a very early age. With each game that he played he kept improving his skills and built a career to become one of the best player of professional football. There qualities make both TATA Motors and Lionel Messi giants who perfectly compliment each other and Lionel Messi the right and perfect Ambassador who stands for the same values that TATA Motors does.

Hemaa Princess said...

Your post describes #madeofgreat so well that it has winner written all over it. Good luck for your entry.
Here is my answer.
Like minds think and act alike looking at the track record of TATA Motors it has stood the test of time and built a business that was built using bricks of hard work on a foundation of trust. Authenticity, reliability, simplicity, as well as its commitment to innovation are the trademarks of brand TATA Motors. These same qualities are present in Lionel Messi who with his immense talent has made a mark for himself on the international football field .Facing all hardships he has worked hard toiling on the fields and in training sessions facing injuries and pressure to come out trumps and be a winner. Thus these two greats Lionel Messi and TATA Motors are made for each other .There association is a bond of two legends
In case you pick me a winner my email id is :
Fingers crossed :)

Yagnesh Joshi said...

Yours is a very well written post your .Its is a very nice description of #madeofgreat
TATA Motors is a brand associated with performance, endurance and excellence. These words are also synonymous with Lionel Messi who plays as a forward and weaves his magic on the football field.Just as Lionel Messi is considered the best footballer in the world ,TATA motors which is Indias premier automotive manufacturer gives wheels to the people of India with its wide range of vehicles. Both believe in excelling in whatever they do and set examples for others to follow. They compliment each other as both are reliable trustworthy and leaders thus Lionel Messi is the natural choice as the brand ambassador of TATA Motors

Sabyasachi Patra said...

Good to know more about Soma. Several years ago when she was starting on birdwatching, I had given her suggestion about a lower shooting angle and she had then told me about the knee replacement. And I felt Wow. Birding after knee replacement. Someone somewhere always does something new and we ought to appreciate those heroic moments and deeds. Thanks for sharing.

Ranjana Jha said...

@Sabyasachi, thank you so much, she remembers you, and I am so touched that you
shared your thoughts.